Russia’s sports exile persists 1 year after invading Ukraine
Russia’s reintegration into the world of sports one year after the invasion of Ukraine began threatens to create the biggest rift in the Olympic movement since the Cold War. Russia remains excluded from many international sporting events but that could soon change. Next year’s Paris Olympics are fast approaching and qualifying events are under way. The International Olympic Committee is working to bring athletes from Russia and ally Belarus back into competition but not everyone agrees. Ukraine and several of its allies say any return for Russia would be unacceptable. The IOC says excluding Russian and Belarusian athletes entirely would be discriminatory.
Alabama: Miller not a suspect in shooting, remains on team
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The University of Alabama said Wednesday that leading scorer Brandon Miller remains an “active member” of the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide and is not considered a suspect in a fatal shooting that took place near campus last month. An attorney for the player said his client never handled the gun officials say was involved in the shooting.
NBA teams get ready to make 4th-quarter push for playoffs
There are six teams in the NBA that look pretty comfortably in playoff position. There are four other teams that pretty much know they’re not going anywhere. That leaves 20 teams for the last 10 playoff spots. The NBA’s All-Star break ends Thursday night. And there’s only 28% of the season left, which means it’s time for teams to start really jostling for playoff position.
MLB curtails infield shift, hopes for more singles, speed
PHOENIX (AP) — One of MLB’s most visible rule changes for 2023 is a sizable curtailing of infield shifts. The practice had grown exponentially over the past several years and has been partially blamed for a steady league-wide decline in batting average. The new rule states that all four infielders must have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield — and two infielders must be on each side of second base — when the pitch is delivered. MLB has also mandated that the infield dirt cutout have uniform dimensions in all 30 ballparks. The outfield edge of the dirt must be 95 feet from the front of the pitching rubber.
Coach K stays busy with ‘Basketball and Beyond’, speeches
Mike Krzyzewski isn’t coaching for the first time in 48 years, but that doesn’t mean he has retired. Despite being away from the sidelines, the Hall of Fame coach has been busy with speeches and his “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” show on SiriusXM satellite radio. Krzyzewski watched his first game post-retirement at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 14, when Notre Dame faced Duke. Even though Coach K isn’t at the games, he said he has watched every game this season and talks frequently with his successor, Jon Scheyer.
PGA Tour money makes it tough on LIV players’ Ryder hopes
Players who joined Saudi-funded LIV Golf can still play in all the majors. That also includes the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America is the last organization to weigh in on criteria for its major. There was one tweak. Otherwise, the PGA Championship still wants the strongest field. But the Ryder Cup will be a tough road because of all the $20 million purses on the PGA Tour. PGA of America officer Kerry Haigh says a LIV player likely will have to win at least one major to have any chance of earning one of six automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
PGA Tour holding last Honda Classic as a new sponsor awaits
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Someone will be getting a big check this week at the Honda Classic. And then someone will be writing a big check to take over the Honda Classic. It’s expected that there will be a tournament at PGA National in 2024 and beyond, but this weekend will mark the last time someone wins the Honda. The automaker’s 42-year sponsorship ends with this PGA Tour event. Potential successors will be in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, to decide if they want to buy the naming rights. Only three of the game’s top 20-ranked players are in the field this week.
Mets’ Beltrán won’t discuss role in Astros’ cheating scandal
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Carlos Beltrán refused to discuss his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal, preferring to concentrate on his new role with the New York Mets. Beltrán was hired by the Mets in November 2019 to replace Mickey Callaway as manager. But the team announced Beltrán’s departure the following January without him managing a game. Beltrán’s departure was announced three days after he was the only Astros player mentioned by name in Major League Baseball’s report that concluded that Houston broke rules by using electronics to steal signs en route to the 2017 World Series title.
Djokovic hopes to play in US despite being unvaccinated
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Novak Djokovic says he has asked American authorities for special permission to enter the United States to play tennis tournaments in California and Florida despite being unvaccinated against the coronavirus. The Transportation Security Administration has said the requirement for foreign air travelers to be fully vaccinated against the disease would be in place at least until mid-April. The tournament in Indian Wells will be played from March 6-19 and the Miami Open is scheduled from March 20-April 2. The top-ranked Serb says “I have a big desire to be there.” Djokovic is one of the most high-profile athletes who is unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Alex Ovechkin returns to Capitals following death of father
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Alex Ovechkin has returned to the Washington Capitals after missing the past week for the death of his father in Moscow. Ovechkin practiced to get some of his conditioning back after flying to and from Russia and skating only once during his absence. He’s eager to get back on the ice while he and his family are still morning Mikhail Ovechkin’s death at age 71. Washington’s longtime captain and leading scorer could play as soon as Thursday against Anaheim. The Capitals went 0-4 without Ovechkin and have lost five in a row in regulation for the first time in nine years.